National Signing Day 2011: Power Ranking The Top Offensive Recruiting Classes
National Signing Day has come and gone.
It is truly a day when everyone who follows college football recruiting can feel like they’re on the floor of the U.S. stock exchange.
As we all relax in our cushy lounge chairs with a mocha latte in hand back at the office, the returns are coming in and each school’s classes are being analyzed.
This year, a few teams realized that not only does defense win championships, but having an offense to win games would be a distinct advantage.
Where did the top 10 teams rank in terms of having the best offensive class in the country?
Did one of the usual powerhouses take the crown?
Could a virtual outsider possibly break the college football recruiting glass ceiling?
10. Tennessee Volunteers
Top Three Prospects: WR DeAnthony Arnett, OL Antonio Richardson, OL Marcus Jackson
Derek Dooley takes advantage of an over-achieveing squad given the shakeup that now-loathed USC head coach Lane Kiffin left the Volunteers.
Tennessee managed to bring in three solid running backs with 6’1”, 205-pound Marlin Lane leading the charge.
The offensive line was heavily focused on with six commitments to the Volunteers, including the exceptional skills of Richardson.
General athlete Izauea Lanier is likely being looked at for the defensive side, but it wouldn’t hurt to give him an opportunity at wide receiver as well.
9. Georgia Bulldogs
Top Three Prospects: RB Isaiah Crowell, TE Jay Rome, QB Christian LeMay
Georgia made a real splash with their recruiting class by signing two of the finest prospects at their respective positions in Isaiah Crowell and Jay Rome.
Quarterback Christian LeMay and wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley are no slouches either.
The Bulldogs brought in six offensive linemen who, at this point, look more likely to provide depth than anything. It would be surprising if all didn’t redshirt or at least see limited time.
Georgia does have three excellent athletes in Chris Sanders, Nick Marshall and Devin Bowman who could do damage on the offensive side of the ball.
8. Oklahoma Sooners
Top Three Prospects: RB Brandon Williams, WR Trey Metoyer, TE Max Stevenson
Oklahoma only brought in 17 commitments for this class, but made them count.
Williams and Metoyer are two of the top prospects at their positions.
Stevenson provides not only exceptional size, but the ability to provide excellent pass protection for the Sooners’ typical passing schemes.
Three offensive line prospects should help add depth to a usually solid front five.
7. Texas Longhorns
Top Three Prospects: RB Malcolm Brown, WR Jaxon Shipley, TE M.J. McFarland
Don’t mess with Texas. Until they’ve gone through and cherry-picked their recruiting class in May, that is.
The Longhorns are no strangers to talent coming in year after year.
Bringing in one of the finest running back prospects in Malcolm Brown was no surprise at all.
Jaxon Shipley, brother of former Texas wide receiver Jordan Shipley, also will be wearing burnt orange next fall.
The Longhorns corralled five offensive linemen much like soon-to-be-former Big 12 conference-mate Nebraska, and all are well-regarded much like the Cornhuskers’.
6. Nebraska Cornhuskers
Top Three Prospects: RB Aaron Green, QB Bubba Starling, OL Tyler Moore
Much like Oklahoma, Nebraska had a smaller class compared to many around the country.
Due to success on the defensive side of the ball, due in large part to head coach Bo Pelini, focus was shifted to offense and that paid off.
The Cornhuskers landed one of the nation’s top running back prospects in Aaron Green, current Nebraska defensive back Andrew Green’s brother.
Quarterbacks Jamal Turner and dual-sport athlete Bubba Starling provide the Cornhuskers with amazing talent should both arrive later this year.
The offensive line recruits could fill out a depth chart and all are highly-touted.
Look for athlete Ameer Abdullah to help Aaron Green in the offensive backfield.
Top Three Prospects: ATH Colt Lyeria, WR Devon Blackmon, ATH Christian French
While technically defined as “athletes,” is there anyone who will accuse the 6’5” Lyeria or the 6’6” French of being anything but wide receivers with their combination of size and speed?
The Ducks snagged three more wide receiver prospects aside from Blackmon, Lyeria and French, too.
They’re all very highly-thought of when it comes to snagging receptions.
Five solid offensive lineman were hauled in along with Tra Carson, a running back from Texarkana, Texas who looks to have the future of a bruiser.
4. Florida State Seminoles
Top Three Prospects: RB James Wilder Jr., TE Nick O'Leary, WR Kelvin Benjamin
The Seminoles didn’t mess around when it came to bringing in a new crop of offensive linemen.
Seven of Florida State’s 28 commitments are slated to start in the offensive trenches.
Two excellent wide receiver prospects in Rashad Greene and Kelvin Benjamin should help breathe more life into the Seminoles receiving corps.
Look for running back sensation James Wilder Jr. and the slightly smaller Devonta Freeman to give Florida State a shot in the arm behind their eventual starting quarterback.
3. Florida Gators
Top Three Prospects: RB Mike Blakely, QB Jeff Driskel, TE A.C. Leonard
Florida gets high marks for quality across the board as usual.
The Gators worked to get a little something at every position.
Florida seems to be able to pick award-winning tight ends out of a crowd, so it’ll be interesting to see Leonard grow throughout his career.
Wide receivers Ja'Juan Story and Javares McRoy look to help keep the Gators receiving corps fresh.
Florida also looks to implement some speed at the running back position with running back Mike Blakely and power with Hunter Joyer.
2. Auburn Tigers
Top Three Prospects: OL Christian Westerman, QB Kiehl Frazier, OL Reese Dismukes
The Tigers may not have found another Cam Newton, but they made sure to fill the roster with plenty of talent in an attempt to take his place.
Running backs Quan Bray and Tre Mason both provide speed and size to give Auburn a stable of backs as they develop.
Tight ends Brandon Fulse and C.J. Uzomah are big-bodied pass catchers who should also be able to open lanes for the run game.
Finally, all four of Auburn’s offensive linemen recruits definitely look the part of SEC players, especially Westerman.
1. Clemson Tigers
Top Three Prospects: RB Mike Bellamy, WR Sammy Watkins, WR Martavis Bryant
Two amazing prospects in Bellamy and Watkins only begin the list of talented athletes that the Tigers hauled in this recruiting season.
The Tigers didn’t sign a wide receiver under 6’3” and all of them could easily see substantial playing time in 2011.
Tight end Eric MacLain has the size to come out of the gate blocking, if not increasing his catching ability one baby step at a time.
Three quarterbacks and offensive line recruits give the Tigers time to groom an appropriate signal-caller, but whoever takes up space under center has fantastic play-makers to throw to immediately.
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